CommunityPam's House Blend

Maine Family Medical Leave Act extended to same-sex partners

Here’s another example of the problem of leaving civil rights to the states. You might recall my post about Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor, Michigan, cities that are rolling back partner benefits, citing the state’s marriage amendment as grounds to discriminate.

Maine, however, is extending rights. In a state that grants domestic partners some, but not all the benefits of civil marriage, both houses of its legislature passed a bill extending the Family Medical Leave Act to cover DPs.  The vote reflected a large amount of support — it passed the House 95-41 and the Senate 28-5.

The amendment to the Family Medical Leave Act makes Maine one of the few states to mandate employers grant limited time off to workers to care for sick kin.

…A spokesperson for Gov. John Baldacci said the governor will sign the measure.

“This was the fair thing to do for LGBT Mainers, and shows that the legislature understands that LGBT people are not just workers, but also have families,” said Betsy Smith, executive director of EqualityMaine.  “Now LGBT employees, who still cannot marry their partners, won’t have to choose been taking care of a sick family member and keeping their jobs.”

Is this the what Dems like Hillary Clinton mean when they declare matters of equality for same-sex partners “states’ rights” —  a patchwork mess of rights and restrictions that stop at the state line? That doesn’t sound like equality to me.

As I said in the comments of Terrance’s fine post this AM on the Dem hair-splitting on the issue, Real Citizens & Real Leaders:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As an African American male from the South, every time I hear “let the states decide” I start looking for the nearest exit. I know my history. The last couple of times that “states rights” — is what we’re really talking about here — have been invoked in this country it wasn’t in support of equal rights, etc., but in opposition to equality.

Right there with you, T. I hear “state’s rights” and see an image of George Wallace standing in the doorway of a school. It’s hard to take any Dem floating this position publicly; they must be questioned about this — would they to enable a return to Jim Crow? Of course not.

The segregationist South would have been content to keep that system in place barring fed intervention. Waiting on social change would have been a long time coming. In a number parts of the South, you can find yourself in a place where time has almost stood still when it comes to even basic racial tolerance.

So what are these pols telling us? If leaving the civil rights of our families up to a majority vote at the ballot box is the position of the day, then they are saying that if you’re gay and you want rights that approximate marriage, you need to move to a state that will honor that. That’s second-class citizenship no matter how you slice it.

Now remember, these are the same politicians who are backing  ENDA and Hate Crimes legislation at the federal level. How do they explain why states can’t decide whether to legislate against LGBTs wholesale on these matters? It’s intellectual dishonesty and cowardice.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding